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The Role of General Parenting Style in Child Diet and Obesity Risk


Purpose of Review

The childhood obesity epidemic is widely considered to have reached pandemic proportions. Across the world, children with obesity are facing numerous psychological and physiological issues that follow them into adulthood, frequently leading to chronic illness and early death. In an effort to combat the compounding effects of childhood overweight, researchers are attempting to identify biological and environmental contributors to child weight. Parenting styles are one recognized influence on child diet and body mass index (BMI). This review is a comprehensive examination of the literature on the influence of parenting style on childhood diet and BMI over the past 5 years.

Recent Findings

Current research continues to support the use of traditional parenting style categories (i.e., authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved/neglectful): however, newer subcategories of Baumrind’s styles and the inclusion of previously underrepresented groups (e.g., fathers, cross cultural comparison studies) are shedding more light on the nuance of parenting’s relationship with child weight.


Parenting styles that focus on the balance of warmth and control (e.g., authoritative) in contrast to the styles dedicated to only one of these constructs (e.g., permissive, authoritarian) seem to promote the healthiest dietary habits and may be protective of child BMI.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Correspondence to Allison Kiefner-Burmeister.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Maternal and Childhood Nutrition

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Kiefner-Burmeister, A., Hinman, N. The Role of General Parenting Style in Child Diet and Obesity Risk. Curr Nutr Rep 9, 14–30 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13668-020-00301-9

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  • Parenting style
  • Childhood obesity
  • BMI
  • Child diet
  • Eating behaviors